The news that Michael Schumacher will not race for Mercedes next season unsurprisingly continues to dominate the sports news agenda in Germany, as the country’s media speculates on what the seven-time world champion may or may not do next.
It’s from the angle of Schumacher’s departure from the race seat, rather than Lewis Hamilton’s arrival, that the newspaper articles have naturally generally been pitched from with the consensus being that there is no escaping from the blunt fact that Schumacher was dropped by Mercedes, with the 43-year-old’s own indecisiveness over his future having ensured he is no longer the master of his F1 destiny.
Germany’s biggest circulation newspaper, Bild, has carried a string of reaction stories since Friday’s announcement and on Saturday ran an article entitled “Gambled and sacked. Mercedes drops Schumacher” which contained the opening line “what an undignified farewell for the greatest racer of all time”.
It goes on to suggest that the German legend “gambled heavily” by delaying a decision over his 2013 plans as “he imagined himself in a safe position” given it was only recently that Mercedes fancied its chances of luring Hamilton away from McLaren.
With Mercedes’ statement announcing Hamilton’s arrival having surprisingly contained no information on what the 43-year-old will do next, Bild has since offered hope to the German’s fans by suggesting that it is “50-50” whether he will retire again or carrying on racing elsewhere on the grid, with his spokeswoman Sabine Kehm quoted as saying that “anything is possible”.
While the offer of an advisory or ambassadorial role with Mercedes is said to be on the table, the tabloid suggests that switches to Sauber, Lotus or Ferrari could not yet be ruled out, making clear that the “racer’s fire still burns and “he is not about money”.
However, other newspapers are less enamoured about the prospect of Schumacher trying to extend his career still further. Under the headline, “Schumacher off the track – Brutal end of career”, Die Welt advises that “Schumacher should leave it at that” and instead consider a switch to team management.
Indeed the newspaper suggests that Schumacher’s clumsy accident in Singapore last weekend firmly led Mercedes to look at the future: “For three years, despite all the mistakes, Mercedes stood behind its star driver. But the disastrous weekend of Singapore has seen the mood swing round. Hamilton suddenly seemed attractive.”
Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel goes further by painting the image of Schumacher as “a hitchhiker without a destination”, going on to say that “the most successful racing driver in history is like a hitchhiker who has been thrown out on the roadside”. The newspaper thinks that the fact Schumacher hasn’t yet announced his future plans shows he is seriously considering trying to race on elsewhere.
It also agrees with Bild that events with Hamilton had simply overtaken Schumacher’s own timeframe: “He did not realise that his name was less significant in its own racing team. As he explained almost cheekily, he would decide no earlier than October, Mercedes had enough. They made contact with Lewis Hamilton and Schumacher suddenly was only a spectator in the race for his own future. At the end of the 91-time Grand Prix winner, was sacked with a press release so cold, as he had done earlier with his opponents.”